The Isles will play the second game of a four-game trip, the first one an ugly 6-2 loss in Washington that stopped their first winning "streak" of the season at two games.
With Matt Donovan hurting and the Isles defense a hot topic, Aaron Ness was recalled from Bridgeport and is expected to play. So too is winger Colin McDonald (returning from hip injury, and Cal Clutterbuck is day-to-day) and goalie Kevin Poulin, who gets his fourth start of the season.
But what of Ness? He has been a workhorse for Bridgeport, as he hasn't been up with the Isles since 2012. That was the 2011-12 season where he, Donovan and Calvin de Haan each saw their NHL debuts, though Ness' was by far the longest at nine games. (Ness made his NHL debut in an Evgeni Nabokov shutout of the Flyers, on the day we learned Frans Nielsen had gotten a raise.)
Somehow, despite playing nine game with the Isles in February 2012 and not getting recalled last season, he managed to avoid
Nino-ing requesting a trade.
So now with injury comes opportunity, and the Isles blueline injuries include Lubomir Visnovsky and Brian Strait, who aren't even on this trip.
This season Ness has three assists and a goal on 15 shots in nine games for Bridgeport. Two seasons ago he received a high of 20:40 and a low of 14:00 of ice time in his nine NHL games. The book on him of course focuses on his small frame, but his skating and vision with the puck helps him Visnovsky out of many threatening situations.
After Tuesday's awful penalty kill display, there were threats of changes to the PK. But if Clutterbuck is out hurt, that takes care of the
top most logical forward candidate to change that unit.
- The Isles meet a Hurricanes team undermined by injuries in goal, to the point that they're starting to hear the opening notes of Rick DiPietro's music. But that's no concern for the Islanders on this night.
- A face the Isles will see, however, is Manny Malhotra -- initially signed to a PTO like DiPietro, and now playing in his fourth game with the Canes. He was the overtime hero the other night as they broke their slump with a win over the Flyers.
- It's early yet, but it does appear Malhotra is being "Malhotra'd," starting 67.4% of his faceoff-started shifts in the defensive zone.
- The Hurricanes recently made a few shuffles, sending top 2013 pick Elias Lindholm to Charlotte (but he's played 10 games, so his ELC is fully activated) and recalling Chris Terry.
- Terry will play with Riley Nash, the man responsible for Visnovsky's concussion. It would be appropriate for an Islander to pay Nash a visit.
- Kirk Muller would like you to know his is not a defense-first team. And Kirk Muller always keeps his word.
- Though Mike Komisarek appeared in these teams' first meeting, he's a likely scratch tonight.
- In addition to their two regular goalies, Jeff Skinner is also still out hurt. And of course Joni Pitkanen is gone because races for icings are so fun and hybrid icing would never work.
Malhotra, in Friedman's 30 Thoughts:
2. Malhotra on Tuesday's win, which broke a five-game losing streak: "We needed it because our guys were playing the system, making high-percentage plays and trusting the process. I've been around long enough to know that's what you have to do. We stuck with it and were rewarded."
Tlusty - E. Staal - Semin
Gerbe - J. Staal - Ruutu
Terry - Nash - Dwyer
Bowman - Malhotra - Dvorak
So here we go. The Hurricanes oddly have the Isles' number, currently winning the last four meetings but dominating the series overall the past several years. Both teams in the fumbling Metropolitan Division need to wound the other to claim one of its precious playoff spots. Which ever team is mournful come April, they'll look back at meetings like these.
Leave your First Islanders Goal picks here.
More from Lighthouse Hockey:
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- [Gameday Bits] Moving On, More Poulin, Mayfield Learns & Marty McInnis
- The (Many) Trouble(s) with Evaluating Goalies
- Zeitgeist: Dynasty (ish)? Minnesota Wild Win Second 'Stanley Cusp' in three years
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